AWG 2010 Spring Meeting
Western Washington University
May 15, 2010

Poster Abstracts


Hallie Adams, Faculty Mentor: David Rossiter, Western Washington University

Tribal Treks: A Window Into the Geography of Canada

Tribal Treks: Canada's Aboriginal Experience is a television program broadcast on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network which portrays the traditions, cultures, and modern practices of aboriginal tribes of Canada by documenting non-aboriginal peoples' visits to Canadian tribal lands their experiences in these areas. As viewers, we are able to learn about and better understand the cultural, human, and physical geographies of Canada and more specifically British Columbia through video documentation, narration, and dialogue information we are given throughout each thirty-minute episode of Tribal Treks. This television series demonstrates the diverse physical geography of Canada's British Columbia by documenting various physical environments such as the Nk'mip Desert of Okanagan Valley near Osoyoos, BC and the lush Boreal forest-covered hills of Quadra Island, BC on the north end of the Strait of Georgia. The cultural and human geographies of British Columbia are also constructed in Tribal Treks through the various aboriginal tribes' views and actions toward their physical environments and homelands in the modern times and throughout history as well as the through the complex social and cultural aspects of their communities. Tribal Treks: Canada's Aboriginal Experience is a very interesting television program which demonstrates much about British Columbia in various geographical contexts.

Keywords: Canada, Geography, Aboriginal


Melissa Affolter, Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andy Bach, Western Washington University

Large Scale Soil Variability: An Examination of the Factors Relating to Within Soil Series Pedodiversity

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has attempted to model the soil classifications of the United States. As one might imagine this is a difficult task, and one that is fraught with error. The focus of this paper is to evaluate the degree to which soil mapping accurately represents the soils found on a particular landscape; an introduction to predictive soil mapping (PSM) is provided, as well as an evaluation of the factors that contribute to within soil series variability.

Key Words: Pedodiversity, intrinsic factors, extrinsic factors

Andrew Bach- Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University

The Last Dam Summer: On-going Research Associated with the Elwha Dam Removal
After nearly 42 years of litigation and more than 17 years of planning, the removal of two hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River is scheduled to begin in Summer 2011. With $54 million of federal stimulus funds (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of2009) the ACTUAL dam removal project is currently up for bid ( The Elwha River Restoration Project is the largest dam removal and river restoration project ever attempted. When the dams are removed, 10 anadromous fish stocks are expected to return to 70 miles of river from which they’ve been excluded for a century. The Elwha dams will not only be the largest ever removed, but protection of the watershed in Olympic National Park provides a study site for testing hypotheses related to river restoration under ideal conditions. The overall goal of these research efforts will be to answer questions central to river restoration and management while providing scientific training opportunities for students and educational opportunities for the general public.

Keywords: dams, rivers, restoration

Dwight Barry, Chris De Sisto, Western Washington University – Huxley College of the Environment on the Peninsulas, Peninsula College.

Wildfire Hazard Assessment and the Wildland-Urban Interface of the North Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Every summer, the Olympic Peninsula experiences small wildfires, the combination of the driest climate in western Washington and heavy vegetative fuel loads means that the potential for a major disaster resulting from wildfire is extremely high—all it would take is an ignition under the right weather conditions. A recent study found that Clallam County has the highest existing risk of catastrophic losses in the event of a major wildfire in all of Washington and is fifth highest amongst all counties of the 11 western United States. The study also ranks Clallam County twenty-fifth in the counties of the western states for potential risk as the result of increasing human development in wildfire prone native ecosystems, an area that firefighters call the wildland-urban interface (WUI). This poster presents the results of a geographical assessment of wildfire hazard for the north Olympic Peninsula (Jefferson and Clallam Counties), combining the relative hazards important to wildland fire behavior to derive monthly maps of wildfire hazard. There are also maps delineating the WUI for Clallam and Jefferson Counties based on existing development that intersects wildland vegetation. These maps can be useful for hazard mitigation, planning, and education efforts across the Peninsula.

Keywords: Olympic Peninsula, wildland fire, WUI

Travis Beaty: Faculty Mentor, David Rossiter, Western Washington University

Canada’s Geography Constructed Through Television Commercials

Geographies can be constructed in popular culture and the media in a variety of ways ranging from music to art. For this paper I have chosen to look at how Molson Canadian (a beer company) chose to construct Canada’s geography in a series of commercials. Since advertisers attempt to create commercials that will sell a lot of their goods they tend to advertise what people want to see. The people at Molson Canadian have played on what Canadians want to view themselves as being in relation to both their physical and their cultural geographies. They have put forth the idea that their huge country is a playground and not the uninhabitable frozen tundra that is often viewed as being by Americans. In addition to that they have also depicted the average Canadian as being the rugged outdoorsman who is adventurous and active. These commercials portray the “perfect” Canadian that everybody is striving to be, however the problem with that is that it only further confuses people about what the average Canadian is actually like.

Keywords: Canada’s rugged outdoorsman, constructed Geography, perfect Canadian

Lara Buelow: Western Washington University

Emily Carr Paints Canada (Poster)

Emily Carr, born in 1871 in Victoria, Canada was one of few female modernist painters during the early 20th century. She managed to create several bodies of work that highlight First Nation life and Canadian landscapes. For the “Imagining Canada” project, I have chosen to review Emily Carr’s Heina painting. Created in 1928, the oil on canvas is a bold and beautiful snapshot of village totem poles in front of looming cliff faces. The scene encompasses a peaceful First Nations settlement and

The scene encompasses a peaceful First Nation settlement and Canada’s steep western mountains. The vibrant colors and bold strokes illustrate how First Nations peoples and the geographical landscape play a strong role in the understanding of Canada.

Keywords: Canada, female modernist, painting

Chang Cuyree: Faculty mentor, George C. Walker, Bellevue College

What’s Going on in Iceland?

A couple weeks ago, volcano erupted in Iceland because of this volcanic eruption, not only people in Iceland was panic but also people around Iceland was panic. Even someone who doesn’t care about natural hazards much listened about Iceland volcanic eruption because media kept talking about that. Why did people keep saying about this? So what I will be dealing is going to be about why it happened, what was the result of that and also how it spread as time goes by. This could be caution for people to get to know natural hazards will be really harmful.

Keywords: Iceland, Volcano, Volcanic ash.

Lacey Cunningham, Western Washington University

Renewable Energy Technology and ‘Sustainable’ Development

In the age of technology, while many espouse the savior of green, renewable energy technology and ‘sustainable’ development, a grossly overlooked factor is the metallic requirement of all electronic innovations and alternative energy options. Rare metals such as copper, nickel, zinc, platinum group metals, columbium, tantalum, and rare earth elements are all essential for our modern communication and renewable technology. The energy for extraction, transoceanic transportation, processing, smelting and the EPA’s designation as the number one releaser of toxic chemicals, mining is not given enough attention in the quest for sustainability. Until there is comprehensive understanding of from where vital metals come from, the pretense that development can be sustainable is a myth. The study will incorporate geology, history, and the political economy, the very embodiment of geography and the manifestation of globalization. The increased globalization of mineral resources is becoming of greater concern due to the lack of stringent environmental regulations outside the USA and therefore we are inherently reliant upon foreign supplies of essential materials for modern technology.

Keywords: electronics, rare metals, renewable energy

Zeck Donahue, Adam Walkiewicz, Michael Stoothoff, Western Washington University

China’s Dirty Rise to Power

China uses more coal than that of the combined overall consumption of the United States, European Union and Japan. Widely abundant and cheaper than any other energy source, coal is the fuel of choice for developing nations. Unfortunately, the low price of coal comes at a high cost to the environment. Coal is also the dirtiest of all energy sources, producing in some instances twice the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, as other fuel sources like natural gas. Moreover, with a national coal reserve of 1 trillion tones, China is not going to run out anytime soon. This poster looks the growing environmental, social, and economic repercussions that China faces if it cannot find a way to curb its insatiable appetite for coal.
Key words: China, coal

Drew Ready, Erin Pierce-Magdalik, Ramon Feskens: Faculty Advisor, Patrick Buckley

Western Washington University

Three Gorges Dam: Are the Benefits Worth the Cost?

Our group will be reviewing literature on the Three Gorges Dam to evaluate economic, social and environmental viability. The dam is located on the Yangtze River, east of Wuhan, China. Its boundaries are expansive as its impacts reach as far upstream as the reservoir goes and as far downstream to the mouth of the river. Some benefits include hydroelectricity, flood control and drought relief. On the other hand, downfalls have been found to encompass residence displacement, environmental impacts and huge economic costs. From reviewing scholarly and newspaper articles we have concluded that thus far, the Three Gorges Dam has done more harm than good.

Wesley Magwire and Alex Hoelting: Faculty mentor, Andy Bach, Western Washington University

Nooksack River Soils (Comparative Study between Two Different Sites)

For our project, we were concerned with two different sites along the north fork of the Nooksack River just outside of the town of Deming. Our focus was to analyze these two areas for vegetation cover and the amount of sand, silt, and clay at 10 cm deep. In both sites, we dug a total of five samples. At the first site in a developed, forested area we sampled five locations, each at increments of five meters, starting at the river bank. At the second site on a side channel of the river, we took five more samples separated by fifteen meters. To begin with, our goal was to determine the content of sand, silt and clay in correlation with the distance from the river bank. Secondly, we also intend to conduct a comparative assessment of the two sample sites, being the developed primary forest, and the river side channel.

Jeff Guinn, M.S. Candidate, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University

Pedestrian Perceptions of the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood, Vancouver, B.C. Canada

America’s current transportation infrastructure caters primarily to the automobile. We need to begin making the shift to non-automotive based modes of transportation, especially in urban centers, if we are to truly embrace sustainability. We are faced with many problems in the current urban environment and much of them can be attributed to our auto-dependency. Problems in air pollution, natural resource depletion, health, and safety could all be curtailed if we effectively encouraged non-automotive based modes of transportation. In order to improve our urban environment I am proposing to examine pedestrian perceptions of non-automotive based modes of transportation within the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, Vancouver, B.C. Canada. The results will provide insight into pedestrian behavior, which can be utilized to implement and encourage more sustainable forms of transportation within an urban environment.

Josh Jones, Patrick Wallace: Faculty mentor: Dr. Andy Bach, Western Washington University

Anthropogenic Trampling and Impacts on Soil Compaction on the Campus of Western Washington University

Soil compaction as a result of anthropogenic trampling is a topic that is rarely covered in existing literature. Usually it will appear, almost as an afterthought, as a subtopic under human-induced soil erosion. Having a geographically concentrated population of approximately 16,000 people is bound to have a negative impact on soil health of the WWU campus. The amelioration of compaction requires extensive time, effort, and monetary contributions. The negative effects of soil compaction are witnessed through loss of surface vegetation, higher rates of surface ponding, and increased overland flow. These can promote soil erosion, which will in turn be deposited into campus drainage systems and eventually into our natural water bodies. A visual survey of the campus was made and seven paths were found to be trampled into areas that were grass-covered. A soil penetrometer was used to test compaction rates in the center of these paths. Successive measurements were taken at two additional locations in a perpendicular line from the center. A string of student’s t-tests were then used to compare the compaction rates. Results varied between given paths, but a significant difference was found in the levels of compaction in the center and outer areas of sampled paths.

Keywords: Soil compaction, trampling, soil erosion.

Kelliann Kelly: Faculty mentor: Andy Bach, Western Washington University

Comparison of Soil Crust Stability among the Different Crust Types

Most of the soil crust studies agree that physical and biological soil crust increase the soil stability which is often used to indicate soil erodibility. The purpose of my research was to compare the soil crust stability among the different crust types found at Potholes Coulee. 10 samples were collected at 8 different sites to test dry and wet soil crust strength with a penetrometer and water holding capacity. The test results showed a great change in crust strength and water holding capacity among different crust types. However, the physical soil crust sample, desert pavement, showed the constant low crust stability with low water absorption. On the other hand a combination of lichen and moss crusts from different sites showed high crust stability in dry and wet condition, and moss dominated crust showed the highest water absorption. These results indicate that depending on a crust type, there is different degree of soil stabilization and its response to wind and water erosion will vary.

Keywords: Soil Crust, Stability

Jonny Kemp, Mike Minifie: Faculty Mentor, Andy Bach, Western Washington University

The Black Cottonwood, Populus balsamifera, and its Effect on Soil Moisture and Organic Content in a Riparian Zone of the Pacific Northwest

An in depth look at a riparian zone around Lincoln Creek in Bellingham WA that sets out to establish some kind of relationship between soil development and the presence of the common Cottonwood tree. Relationships will be established on the basis of content of organic material and moisture content that is present in spatially varying samples. Multiple samples were taken at varying distances from Lincoln creek and with different types of vegetation cover. Across the board the whole site was fairly uniform in moisture content and organic material. This has led us to the conclusion that the cottonwood will affect ecosystem development in much the same way as similar sized fauna. However its slight nitrogen fixing abilities allows it to grow in harsh regions where it can facilitate development.

Keywords: Cottonwoods; Soil Moisture; Organic Matter

Jessica Kiehl: Faculty mentor, George Walker, Bellevue College

Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico

On April 20th, an offshore drilling rig began spill thousands of barrels of oil after a disastrous explosion. It is on course to be the worst oil spill in history. There were eleven oil rig workers that weren’t accounted for and are presumed to be dead. Many environmentalists are concerned for the marine life, especially the endangered sea turtles and bluefin tuna, snapper and grouper.